“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out” – Robert Collier
If you’ve been on the internet long enough to follow your fair share of business motivation pages on social media, you probably know the above quote almost by heart, and probably know that it does hold true in almost all (if not all) cases of successful people. Yet, it’s easier said than done. The “small efforts” that Collier speaks of are usually deemed monotonous tasks that we dread doing. These can include waking up early to get to work on time (and impress our higher ups), working out daily to lose weight and become stronger, or, to use an extremely boring example, completing chores such as washing clothes and doing dishes to maintain a cleanly environment.
Daily discipline applies to anything you want to be successful in, including things we consider to be fun, such as hobbies. However, many people don’t realize this, and therefore discontinue working on their fun side-projects when the going gets rough. You probably know it all too well: you’ve tried picking up painting, cooking, even a physical activity such as yoga as a hobby, only to never get anywhere because of, well, just about every excuse in the book. Lack of time, feeling like you aren’t going to ever see any progress, or realizing that, yes, hobbies too take work, and can even add stress to our day if we take them serious and want to see growth.
Recently, I took up a hobby of my own that has tested my own levels of personal discipline. It all started with seeing some packs of sunflower seeds at Target. A few hours and two hands full of dirty nails later, I had planted my very own sunflower, morning glory, and moonflower seeds. Thus was the beginning of a small project that would quite literally serve as a metaphor for what it takes to be successful.
If you’ve ever explored growing your green thumb beyond nurturing cacti and succulents, you probably know that most other plants aren’t as hardy and require a daily watering to survive. This statement especially holds true if you are starting flowers from seeds in the middle of the summer in the urban desert that is Los Angeles, California. Being the busy person that I am, I admit that I’ve forgotten to water my young seedlings more than a few times. And trust me, you could definitely tell when they’ve been sufficiently hydrated, versus just scraping by on enough water to stay alive.
Long story short, I’ve since learned from this project that daily nurturing of your projects is essential is you want to see them survive long term. My small gardening project serves as a metaphor to success: the more I watered my flowers, the better they grew, and the faster they grew. However, this only holds true up to a certain point. Water your plants too much, and they might just become waterlogged and end up dying from too much care. This holds true in other aspects. There is a balance between a healthy obsession and full-on neuroticism. One will lead to fulfillment of your goals, and the other will burn you out and take you (and your dreams) to the grave. If you’ve ever pushed yourself too far beyond your physical limitations in the gym, or have taken on too many projects at work, you’ll know that burnout is an all too real phenomenon. This isn’t to say that you couldn’t handle these projects in the future, or even now if you had better time management skills. Burnout is caused by not knowing our own limitations and therefore pushing ourselves way beyond what they might be. If you’re a person who tends to take on more than you can handle, I suggest 1.) learning better time management skills, and 2.) reassessing what projects and activities are most important to you at this period in your life.
Many always assume the grass is greener on the other side, but if only they were to know that those fields were watered daily by their loving owners. Start watering your own grass, and soon you’ll see the lovely fields of peridot and emerald that you could once only dream of.